Research Interview Dialogue 2

I am sitting at the reference desk one afternoon when the phone rings.

Me:  Bull Run Regional Library this is Sam.

Person on other end of Phone: Hi. I’m looking for some advice on research for a speech.

Me: Ok, can you tell me more about it.

Phone: Well, yea… I’m the Valedictorian this year at Osbourn.

Me: Congratulations!

Phone: Thanks.  So, I know that the Manassas National Battlefield is near here.  I don’t really know much about the battle that took place there and I was hoping to incorporate something about it into my speech. Do you have anything at the library that could help?

Me: I bet we do. If you would like to come up here I could be of more assistance.

Phone: Ok, I’ll be up there in half an hour.

Me: I’ll start looking through our catalog and pull a few items.

Phone: Ok, Thanks. Bye. (Hangs up.)

Short time passes. A young woman walks into the library, and heads to the reference desk.

Young Woman: Hi, I just spoke with someone about a graduation speech I am writing about half an hour ago.

Me: Yes. That was me. I was able to find a few things that I think you will find of interest.  I remember my valedictorian included a poem in his speech so that leads me to this first book: Shades of the battlefield: poems by Beatrice Bright.(Prince William Public Library System, Shades) I haven’t looked at it yet and am unfamiliar with the poet- so I can’t recommend any in particular, but one of the subject headings for the book was “Manassas (Va.) — History — Civil War, 1861-1865 – Poetry”. (Prince William Public Library System, Shades)

YW: Thanks.  What else is in that stack?

Me: This next one is a novel: Unto this hour by Tom Wicker.(Prince William Public Library System, Unto) It’s a fictional account of what happened at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run; one of the battles you were interested in. One of the things that caught my eye about this one was the scope, the focus, the author did on this one battle.  Judging from the information on the jacket, he approaches the novel from many different points of view. It’s kind of long running over six hundred pages, but I skimmed through some of the pages and it looks like a good read. The author obviously spent a long time doing research to treat the topic of this one battle so immensely.

YW: That sounds interesting. I would like to look at that one more. I like how you said it approaches the story from multiple points of view; maybe I can find something in that.  I don’t know if I can finish the book before graduation with everything else going on, but I can probably read a good bit of it. What’s the next book?

Me: This next book is more poetry: Rhythmic Ramblings in Battle Scarred Manassas by Douglas Clark.(Prince William Public Library System, Rhythmic) In particular you might like the poem Alma Mater. I looked through the table of contents and when I saw that one I had to read it.  Take a look- it’s not long. (She opens the book and looks at the poem.)

YW: Hmm.  That could be interesting. I haven’t yet decided the focus of the speech, but I want to tie into it some local history. To remind everyone where it is we come from and who we are.

Me:  Ah, That leads me to this last book: Incidents of Cavalry Experiences during General Pope’s Campaign, by William Gardiner.(Prince William Public Library System, Incidents)

YW: What is it about?

Me: It is a series of personal narratives of soldiers. Perhaps one persons’ story will stick out? It is a series of papers that were read before the Rhode Island Soldiers and Sailors Historical Society.

YW: Wow.  That actually sounds really useful.  Maybe there is one really good story in there that will stick out to me.

Me: I know you are busy getting ready for graduation, but since we are so close to the battlefield I got to thinking. What if you read these books while at the battlefield? It could really help you meditate on the meaning of the experiences you will read about.

YW: I actually had that same thought on my way here.  Great minds think alike right.

Me: It only costs $3 to get in. I’ve been there a few times.

YW:  That’s not bad.  I think I’ll check it out this afternoon. I’ll keep those last three, that first one doesn’t sound too interesting.

Me: I’ll re-shelve it.  You can check the other three out at the circulation desk. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

YW: No thank you. That helps out a lot.  I’ll take a look at these for now.  I might come back later.

Me:  We are open till five this afternoon, and will re-open tomorrow at noon.

YW: Thanks. Have a good day!

Me: You too.


  1. Prince William Public Library System. (n.d.). Shades of the battlefield: poems by beatrice bright. Retrieved from

  2. Prince William Public Library System. (n.d.). Unto this hour by tom wicker. Retrieved from

  3. Prince William Public Library System. (n.d.). Rhythmic ramblings in battle scarred manassas by douglas clark. Retrieved from

  4. Prince William Public Library System. (n.d.). Incidents of cavalry experiences during general pope’s campaign, by william gardiner. Retrieved from


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